In short, if you use the right tools, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: Your employees can interact with one another as if they’re in the same room, and they can experience all of the benefits that come with working from home. It’s possible to reap the benefits of personal interaction, successful collaboration, and a productive work from home environment. This is possible with the right tools and knowledge for virtual collaboration.
While home-based businesses are starting to become more and more acceptable, with several major enterprises, such as Amazon, having started out as home-based businesses. As such, having the physical address that comes with a virtual office will add legitimacy to your business since your clients will be privy to a location that isn’t simply someone’s home.

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Working in an office carries a lot of secondary expenses. For instance, you have to pay for your transportation costs (gasoline, bus/train tickets, etc.), professional attire (suits, business accessories), and other related costs (lunch, makeup/deodorant, etc.). These costs can quickly add up, although they’re rarely considered. For business owners, who must lease or rent a space, the costs are much greater. When you use a virtual office, you can end up saving a lot of money.
Employees from the younger generations of workers--Generation X and Generation Y, in particular--find virtual work a tremendous benefit. Virtual offices and telecommuting offer flexibility, and the comfort of being able to work independently without conforming to work rules, such as a dress code and traditional work hours. Telecommuting is appealing to some workers because it prevents the often unnecessary and unwelcome interruptions by co-workers and managers that can impede productivity and attentiveness.

GlobeSmart ProfileSM Debrief: Aperian Global offers GlobeSmart, the industry’s leading online cultural intelligence resource for improved cross-cultural understanding. This program will help business professionals leverage the GlobeSmart online learning tool and use cultural intelligence to work globally. Learning objectives include gaining knowledge into common behaviors influenced by culture, learning to overcome cultural gaps, and more. The GlobeSmart Profile is an online cultural inventory that allows users to learn about their own unique working styles, while also providing them with advice about working successfully with colleagues and people from other cultures. The profile is available in 13 languages.

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Depending on where you live, one of the first places to start is the US Small Business Administration, the Government website for Industry Canada or whatever small business agency your country has to provide resources. It is important to understand the specific business regulations and legalities to becoming a business owner in your own country. The International Virtual Assistant Association is another online resource for virtual assistants. The following qualities are important if you want to become a virtual assistant.

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A decision-making tool. Sometimes teams struggle to come to a decision, and this is especially true in the virtual setting. A helpful decision-making tool can alleviate the stress that comes with making difficult decisions, because it will allow team members to easily vote, tally the results, and present everyone with the final outcome. Loomio and Tricider are helpful decision-making tools that allow members to vote and quickly understand the likely outcome.
No matter how important a task may be, if you get a mental block, it will continue to sit on your to-do list gathering dust. The great thing about a personal assistant is that you can choose one who has the strengths you yourself lack. If you’re great with numbers but rubbish at writing presentations, a personal assistant can help translate the data into a powerpoint doc for you. If you don’t do spell-check, they’ll catch any grammatical errors.
In all fairness, despite its glorious perks, being a personal assistant is not for everybody. You often need to sacrifice your own hopes and dreams for the sake of the person you work for, but making that sacrifice might just be the one thing that helps you reach something you never even dreamed of achieving. Just think about Pepper Potts in Iron Man: she started off as an assistant but ended up being in charge of the entire Stark Industries.
Luckily, challenges bring with them opportunities. Company leaders managing remote employees can take action to circumvent the possible negative effects of remote work. They can require remote workers to check in with another employee or manager every day, simply to engage in a friendly conversation, and enjoy some personal facetime to break up the workday, as would be normal in an office setting.
Collaborate about team expectations and goals. Be sure that expectations and goals are clearly stated for virtual meetings. If working in a team, allow everyone to work together to create the team’s expectations and goals. This will set the standard for what’s expected from everyone, and allow everyone to agree on meeting protocols, such as how to resolve conflict and make group decisions.
Even with the right tools and adequate planning, virtual teams in the workplace can pose unique challenges for global companies of all sizes. An experienced talent development firm can help companies navigate the trials that come with virtual collaboration across cultural boundaries. Choose to work with a firm with a validated inventory in the market and a proven record for success.

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Increased productivity. Virtual collaboration tools allow remote employees to collaborate as if they’re in the same conference room. Employees can use forms of virtual communication in the workplace, such as video conferencing, as well as email, instant messages, and the telephone. Workers are more likely to work in excess of 40 hours a week if they’re working from home, and they also take fewer sick days. Employees working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they’re able to collaborate from home. Business hours increase with more flexibility. Furthermore, business will continue as usual regardless of weather conditions that could limit productivity due to hazardous driving conditions.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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A virtual, or remote, personal assistant manages your life from afar. Like a really great fairy godmother that you never have to make a cup of tea for. Which has huge benefit if you’re a one-man or woman band, if you don’t have a physical office to put them in, or if you don’t want to be responsible for holiday, sickness and other HR headaches. Managing your PA virtually is about as simple as setting a task list and watching it get ticked off. Without you having to do a thing.
Virtual work benefits the environment because fewer people are traveling in cars, buses and trains, which lowers the amount of vehicle emissions and decreases fuel usage. In 2007, CNET News published an article touting the benefits of telecommuting with statistics pertaining to congestion and traffic in Texas. Commuters face significant increases in traffic congestion in all 437 metropolitan areas in the United States. Adding up all the associated costs, the Texas Transportation Institute in early 2000 concluded that gridlock cost $78 billion annually in terms of 4.2 billion lost hours, not to mention 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. That's one convincing argument for telecommuting, especially in an area such as Houston where environmental pollutants are a serious concern.
Commuting to work each day can eat up a lot of your time. Getting ready for work (grooming, putting on professional attire, etc.) and commuting to your office (and then back home again later) typically take up hours of your day. By using a virtual office, you can instantly eliminate your daily commute, saving time that you can put towards more useful things.
Small-business owners often struggle to fulfill all their duties but are wary of taking on a partner or hiring a management team because they want to maintain the integrity of their vision or stay in complete control. If that sounds like you, you can bring your business to the next level without too much compromise or cost by hiring a personal assistant.

Leading Across Distance: This program is designed to provide leaders with the tools they need to propel results from their virtual teams. The program is broken up into three sessions: distance leadership, leading across cultural differences, and engaging virtual meetings. You will learn what you need to know about the most important aspects of distance leadership, how to effectively communicate in the virtual setting, how to leverage diversity and cultural differences, and more.


Even if a company gets only the same levels of productivity, efficiency and morale, the company still benefits from the virtual worker. When employees are responsible for their own housing, costs for the enterprise immediately go down, according to Forbes. This is true even of the biggest companies in the world. Aetna stopped paying for 2.7 million square feet of floor space ($78 million) when it created 14,500 virtual jobs for 35,000 employees. American Express reported savings of $10 million when it began its virtual work programs.

No matter how important a task may be, if you get a mental block, it will continue to sit on your to-do list gathering dust. The great thing about a personal assistant is that you can choose one who has the strengths you yourself lack. If you’re great with numbers but rubbish at writing presentations, a personal assistant can help translate the data into a powerpoint doc for you. If you don’t do spell-check, they’ll catch any grammatical errors.
A greater part of the day can be devoted to job duties, projects and other work-related responsibilities because commuting time is eliminated. In some densely populated areas, commuters spend upwards of 10 hours each week just going to and from work. Telecommuters could put to use the saved time by dedicating more of their time to office work, or to achieving a work life balance by spending time with family.
Think about your to-do list. There’s likely tasks piling up. Only those that rise to the top because they can no longer be delayed get done. Often times, this delay causes something that might have been inexpensive to increase in cost. For example, putting off scheduling the furnace cleaning may lead to needing to have the furnace replaced. It’s also pretty likely that you’re not going to ask for help with these seemingly “small” tasks. You don’t want to bother people, or maybe you’re not sure who to ask. Lucky for you, that’s where a personal assistant comes in.

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